by Daniel Hartley



Emoticons are the virtual manifestation of our actual emotions. They are simultaneously signs of our unwitting subjection and the relics-to-be of a non-subjected subjectivity. As we insert them into an internet chat or an e-mail, we can almost physically sense their limiting effect upon our self-expression; the nuanced gamut of our emotional repertoire is forced, like so much cheap stuffing, into these fabricated grimaces. Our intuitive resistance to this is the negative form of utopia. And yet they do not lie. They foretell of an era in which absolute originality is no longer the measure of success, since the eccentric individual only becomes necessary on a backdrop of uniform dreariness: the power of the celebrity is the impotence of the populace. Emoticons are the meeting place of the living dead and the not-yet-born.

(Written in the spirit of Adorno’s Minima Moralia…this one’s for fans of Theodor! Apologies to those who don’t know or like his work…i.e. most people.)